Godfrey History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The history of the name Godfrey begins with the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It is derived from the baptismal name for the son of Godfrey. Baptismal names were a form of patronymic surnames, and came from either the religious or vernacular given name traditions. In this case, the patronym was adopted from the personal name of the bearers father.

Early Origins of the Godfrey family

The surname Godfrey was first found in Kent. One of the first records of the name was Henricus filius Godefrid who was listed in the Pipe Rolls taken during the reign of King Henry II (1154-1189.) [1]

It is generally believed that he was related to William Godefridus of Normandy listed in a census there taken 1180-1198. [2]

However, the Godfrey variant had many early references including Godfrey the Bearded (c.?997-1069); and his son, Godfrey IV, Duke of Lower Lorraine (died 1706), known as the Hunchback who was assassinated in Vlaardingen; Godfrey of Bouillon (c. 1060-1100), a medieval Frankish knight, one of the leaders of the First Crusade, Godfrey of Cambrai, the prior of Winchester Abbey from 1082 until his death in 1107; and Godfrey (died 1088), medieval Bishop of Chichester.

"In the churchyard [of Woodford, Essex] is a splendid Corinthian column of marble, about forty feet in height, erected to the memory of the Godfrey family, which flourished many years in Kent; also a tomb with a column entirely covered with ivy, of picturesque appearance; and a remarkably fine old yew-tree." [3]

Early History of the Godfrey family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Godfrey research. Another 99 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1666, 1273, 1622, 1678, 1642, 1631, 1648, 1714, 1641, 1797 and are included under the topic Early Godfrey History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Godfrey Spelling Variations

The English language only became standardized in the last few centuries; therefore, spelling variations are common among early Anglo-Saxon names. As the form of the English language changed, even the spelling of literate people's names evolved. Godfrey has been recorded under many different variations, including Godfrey, Godfry, Godfrie, Godfree, Godfery, Godkin and many more.

Early Notables of the Godfrey family (pre 1700)

Notables of this surname at this time include: Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey (1622-1678), English politician, London woodmonger and Justice of the Peace, his unsolved murder was one of the most celebrated historical mysteries; Richard Godfrey...
Another 35 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Godfrey Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Godfrey World Ranking

In the United States, the name Godfrey is the 1,101st most popular surname with an estimated 27,357 people with that name. [4] However, in Australia, the name Godfrey is ranked the 663rd most popular surname with an estimated 5,884 people with that name. [5] And in New Zealand, the name Godfrey is the 600th popular surname with an estimated 1,198 people with that name. [6] The United Kingdom ranks Godfrey as 479th with 13,424 people. [7]

Ireland Migration of the Godfrey family to Ireland

Some of the Godfrey family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 120 words (9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Godfrey migration to the United States +

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that shrouded England made the far away New World an attractive prospect. On cramped disease-ridden ships, thousands migrated to those British colonies that would eventually become Canada and the United States. Those hardy settlers that survived the journey often went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Godfrey or a variant listed above:

Godfrey Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Edward Godfrey who settled in Maine in 1630
  • Peter Godfrey, who arrived in New England in 1631 [8]
  • Jo Godfrey, aged 21, who arrived in Virginia in 1635 [8]
  • Richard Godfrey who settled in Virginia in 1652
  • Elias Godfrey, who arrived in Maryland in 1662 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Godfrey Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Vincent Godfrey, who landed in Virginia in 1701 [8]
  • Mary Godfrey, who arrived in Virginia in 1701 [8]
  • Fra Godfrey, who arrived in Virginia in 1705 [8]
  • William Godfrey, who arrived in America in 1765 [8]
  • Sarah Godfrey, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1773 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Godfrey Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Godfrey, who arrived in Savanna(h), Georgia in 1806 [8]
  • Thomas Godfrey, who landed in New York, NX in 1815 [8]
  • Margaret Godfrey, aged 65, who landed in New York, NY in 1816 [8]
  • Kemp Godfrey, who arrived in New York, NY in 1834 [8]
  • Denis, Edward, George, James, John, Joseph, Michael, Peter, Sarah, Steven, William Godfrey all, who arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Godfrey migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Godfrey Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Ely Godfrey U.E. who arrived at Port Roseway [Shelburne], Nova Scotia on December 13, 1783 was passenger number 463 aboard the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on November 14, 1783 at East River, New York [9]
  • Mrs. Hannah Godfrey U.E. who arrived at Port Roseway [Shelburne], Nova Scotia on December 13, 1783 was passenger number 539 aboard the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on November 14, 1783 at East River, New York [9]
  • Miss Mary Godfrey U.E. (b. 1782), aged 1 who arrived at Port Roseway [Shelburne], Nova Scotia on December 13, 1783 was passenger number 40 aboard the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on November 14, 1783 at East River, New York [9]
  • Miss Mary Godfrey U.E. (b. 1764), aged 19 who arrived at Port Roseway [Shelburne], Nova Scotia on December 13, 1783 was passenger number 601 aboard the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on November 14, 1783 at East River, New York [9]
Godfrey Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Richard Godfrey, who arrived in Canada in 1832
  • Newcomb Godfrey, who landed in Canada in 1834

Australia Godfrey migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Godfrey Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Godfrey, English convict who was convicted in Surrey, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Canada" on 23rd April 1819, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [10]
  • John Godfrey, English convict from Devon, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on July 3, 1822, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [11]
  • Thomas Godfrey, English convict from Bristol, who was transported aboard the "America" on April 4, 1829, settling in New South Wales, Australia [12]
  • Mr. Henry Godfrey, English convict who was convicted in Norfolk, Norfolkshire, England for life, transported aboard the "Aurora" on 3rd November 1833, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [13]
  • Miss Sarah Godfrey, (b. 1802), aged 36, English house maid from Benenden, Kent, England travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Maitland" arriving in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 6th November 1838, she died in 1895 [14]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Godfrey migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Godfrey Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Colonel Godfrey, Australian settler travelling from Sydney aboard the ship "Earl of Lonsdale" arriving in Bay of Islands, North Island, New Zealand in 1840 [15]
  • Edward Lee Godfrey, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1841
  • Henry Godfrey, who landed in Nelson, New Zealand in 1842 aboard the ship Geo Fife
  • Henry Godfrey, aged 17, a farm labourer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "George Fyfe" in 1842
  • Mr. Godfrey, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "George Fyffe" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 7th November 1842 [15]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Godfrey migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [16]
Godfrey Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Hugh Godfrey who settled in Barbados in 1663
  • Andrew Godfrey who settled in Barbados in 1678

Contemporary Notables of the name Godfrey (post 1700) +

  • Joseph Godfrey, American Republican politician, Candidate for Mayor of Scranton, Pennsylvania, 1866 [17]
  • John T. Godfrey, American fighter pilot and flying ace in the U.S. Army Air Forces, during World War II, credited with 16 aerial victories
  • Vincent T. Godfrey, American Democratic Party politician, Presidential Elector for California, 1944 [17]
  • William Godfrey, American politician, Member of Missouri State House of Representatives from St. Louis City 6th District, 1905-06 [17]
  • Tom Godfrey, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Iowa, 1952 [17]
  • Thomas J. Godfrey, American politician, Delegate to Ohio State Constitutional Convention from Mercer County, 1873 [17]
  • Rufus B. Godfrey, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Vermont, 1908 [17]
  • Stacey Godfrey, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Georgia, 2000, 2004 [17]
  • Rosa Godfrey, American politician, Member of Iowa American Independent State Central Committee, 1971 [17]
  • Richard C. Godfrey, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Puerto Rico, 1964 [17]
  • ... (Another 53 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Philip Godfrey, British Petty Officer Telegraphist, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [18]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. George A Godfrey, British Engine Room Artificer 5th Class, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [19]


The Godfrey Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Deus et libertas
Motto Translation: God and liberty.


  1. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  5. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  6. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  7. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  8. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  9. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  10. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 9th December 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/canada
  11. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Arab voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1822 with 155 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/arab/1822
  12. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 26) America voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1829 with 176 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/america/1829
  13. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 20th August 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/aurora
  14. ^ Ship Voyages to New South Wales (Retrieved 11th July 2021). Retrieved from https://indexes.records.nsw.gov.au/ebook/list.aspx?Page=NRS5313/4_4780/Maitland_5 Nov 1838/4_478000079.jpg&No=107
  15. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  16. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  17. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, August 11) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  18. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  19. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html


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